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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 29, 2011 4:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: bkidwell, Playin...

Hey bkidwell, thought I would ask for your opinion.

My favorite 72 playin's are 1972-10-18 (both). DP 23 and DP 36. I also like 1972-07-21, its shorter but has a lot of intensity.

How do these versions rank in your opinion? And if ya could, link me to other 72 playin in the bands that you think are special.

Thanks

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Jul 29, 2011 11:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

OK I guess this thread isn't just for bk anymore so I'll chime in. I think 9/10/72 is also one of the best:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-09-10.sbd.lai.5679.shnf

The others can't be recommended highly enough!



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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 9:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

thanks clementine.

And while we're in the jazzy world of 72 playins... ever been to the Jazz Estate? tiny lil jazz bar on the east side. They have some great stuff on the weekends.

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:06am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

yes sir! i live a few blocks away...been there a few times. You mentioned you're in SE wisco, whereabouts do you live? I'm always going to shows up here, looking forward to the 25th anniversary Panic shows coming up in October.

This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-08-01 07:06:39

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

I live just west of wauwatosa, in da burbs. I also go to UWM, got a year left.

We should hit up the estate sometime, talk dead. Wouldnt mind hanging with someone who could teach me a thing or two about the dead vs. me trying to be an evangelical dead head to no avail. I prefer the weekends up there, much jazzier material and the crowds are small, or should I say the place is usually empty hah.

Have yet to ever catch panic. Listened to probably an hour or two total of their music. Though I typically enjoy what I hear. Its a shame that DSO skipped on us this year.

Did you ever catch the furthur March 09 (or was it 10?) shows? I missed the november shows...

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 29, 2011 6:21pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

It seems bkidwell is now our Resident Playin Expert!

11/18/72 is the go-to Playin, but 11/15 is also excellent, especially now that we have it complete:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-11-15.sbd.miller.110631.flac16

10/26/72 is also one serious version:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-10-26.sbd.miller.32717.sbeok.flac16
But you couldn't go wrong with pretty much any Playin from Nov-Dec '72.

I assume you forgot to mention the Veneta Playin.
Another shorter but intense one is this:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-08-12.sbd.hamilton.3327.sbeok.shnf
I remember liking the 7/22/72 version, though only the AUD is here now:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-07-22.aud.jems.106930.flac16

And, to step a little earlier, here is one of the last Playin's from Europe when they were just starting to really take it for a ride:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-05-25.sbd.miller.87682.sbeok.flac16

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 29, 2011 10:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

You mentioned awhile ago you have been working on a big post on Playing in the Band - I hope that is still in the works, I have been awaiting it very eagerly!

I don't think I'm much of an expert on PITB during the glory years in comparison to the other posters on this board, I've probably only heard about 60% of the 72-74 versions, and I tend to listen "for enjoyment" more often than I listen analytically, and I don't take many notes.

I'm actually consciously "saving" my listening experience of the band's best years, I want to make sure that in ten years, there will still be some treasures from my favorite years (72-74) that will be new to my ears. I do the same thing with classical music, there is some famous music by Schubert and Schumann and Wagner that I have been deliberately avoiding hearing for decades, just so that I can experience it "fresh" when I'm older.

I do think that I am expert in the versions of PITB from the final years, because I have listened comprehensively and taken written notes on all the 90s Playins, in hopes of finding buried treasure!

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Jul 29, 2011 11:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

I totally get this! It always helps me to have a new listening experience when it comes to the Dead, especially when my ears staring getting "numb" from over listening. It's like hitting a giant reset button for me.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 30, 2011 1:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

Yeah, I've been waiting too.... Realized I bit off more than I could chew - schedule's not working out these days - had to take a break from it for a while so I could get some shorter posts done & readers wouldn't have to wait months for my next post. Have to be patient in this biz... That post should be up next month. But it will take many, many months to get to all the other things I want to write...

BTW I'm not in agreement with your practice of "saving" the best for later years, if I understand you right... Would it be really a good idea to put off, say, 8/3/69 or 11/14/73 or the Europe '72 tour til 2021? Even aside from intentionally depriving yourself of those memories, or the anticipation of wanting to hear them again, or even the knowledge of what happens in those shows - I find that this kind of music tends to transform over time anyway - so the 8/27/72 you listen to today is not necessarily going to be the 8/27/72 you hear next year. There are, after all, 150 Playin's from '72-74, and by the time you start RE-listening to them, they'll in effect mostly be new to you anyway! (Heck, some of these sound new to me every time - but then I have no notes and a bad memory!)
There will always be enough, and it's not going to be "used up" - I think you'll have little trouble finding "fresh" or under-listened shows for many years to come, even if you don't hold some in reserve.... That's just a personal stance, though.
But I do understand 'saving' favorite shows for special occasions, as I've had that habit.... I've never been one to play my favorites to death.

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-07-30 08:14:09

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 30, 2011 1:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I'm glad you find the time to write as much as you do, and essays like your recent post on late 70s Other Ones are certainly appreciated. Playin' is such an important topic, and it has also seen a lot less scholarship than Dark Star, so I can see why you want to take the time to do justice to it.

I think the question of how we choose what to hear is interesting enough I'll make some more comments. I'm not really trying to avoid hearing the best material - I usually listen to several new-to-me shows from the 68-74 era each week, and I think I have heard almost all of the most famous and most discussed shows, with only a few exceptions.

At the same time, I really do like to "pace myself" in my listening. A lot of it is just that variety enhances my enjoyment, and I will have a more intense experience with a previously unheard 68 show if I haven't heard any 68 for a few days. The special deliciousness of 68 (fat Jerry tone, snare-heavy drum sound, Phil blazing completely new trails for the bass in rock music) has incredible impact if you hear it contrast with, say, a thin early 80s sbd.

For me, a previously unheard early 69 Dark Star is like a thousand dollar bottle of vintage wine - it is going to be a special occasion when I hear it, and the moment of popping the cork has a certain poignancy. The first listening always seems to "fold time back on itself" and it's like I'm 17 and putting on "Live Dead" fresh from the record store.

I feel like I'm rewarded for taking it slowly by things like the E72 box set release - I have been rationing myself on those shows for decades now, and as a result, some of the music will be new to me, and it will enhance my appreciation when I receive it.

I agree how we hear the music changes over time, and that well-loved shows also have a special quality that grows through repeated listening over the years. Something I've enjoyed greatly about the archive is a consequence of a very unfortunate event in my GD listening career - I had my huge case of Favorite Tapes stolen out of my car sometime in the late 90s. Needless to say, having invested immense time in building it in the days of physical tape copying, it was rather harsh. The past few years have been a time of many "happy reunions" as I can once again hear favorite shows I went a decade without.

Needless to say, I don't think there is a "right way" and a "wrong way" to listen, and I really enjoy reading the observations when people do comprehensive listening in the manner of Cliff's Europe 72 notebook or Jerlouvis' excerpts from his listening notes.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 30, 2011 7:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

"Pacing myself" is not an issue in my case, as I have little time for listening, and usually if I can find an hour or two in a week for some Dead, that's doing pretty well. (One reason is I don't believe in 'multitasking' while doing close listening.) So years often pass before I'll hear any given show a second time...and the second time can often be as special as the first. There are numerous "golden-era" shows I haven't heard in 10 years, much as I'd like to put them all on right away...

The experience of hearing digital versions of shows I had on tape was often quite enlightening, as I realized how crappy my tapes had sounded... "Oh wait, I can hear them now!" The effect of multiple tape generations, at the wrong speed, on bass-heavy FM broadcasts, with tapeflips in the middle of Dark Stars, was not kind.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 30, 2011 8:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Wow LIA, hearing that you are only able to spend an hour or two a week on focused listening is really surprising. If I was in charge of what remains of the once-mighty GD empire, I would hire you to be an Official Music Commentator for the band. I like the material people like Blair Jackson and David Gans and McNally and the rest of the "insiders" write well enough, but I think your stuff is even better.

I feel insanely lucky now that I can listen to the GD in almost unlimited quantities, I am constrained only by ear fatigue and appetite. I listen to most things that people recommend or discuss here, and still have time to explore freely. Now I feel guilty for the luxury, and the fact that I don't use my listening time more productively. I listen to a lot of "nostalgia value" things like aud tapes of notable breakouts and novelties to check out the crowd reaction.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 30, 2011 9:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I will 2nd that Lia's insights into the music are superior to almost all the writers I have come across,and I have read the majority of the good books written on the band,and countless articles,and usually come away shaking my head at what I find to be a very poor grasp on the musical side of the bands history.Admittedly I'm a harsh critic,fairly opinionated and for the most part I'm out of step with the peoples opinions.I think it's a shame that jokers like David Lemieux and Blair Jackson are involved in the selection process as to what is released from the vault,we already had a guy in Dick Latvala that was clueless,while I'm sure he was a nice guy and he leaked out a bunch of music for us,he did not seem to really understand the music. I think David Gans would be a fine choice to put in the mix as a consultant.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 11:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

what is it that you dont like about David or Blair? Im also surprised to hear you say that about Dick. I always believed he was the perfect guy for the job. He just wanted to listen to the shit. And he also wasnt able to release what he actually wanted. The title Dick's Picks is misleading because he frequently was met with push backs for something with better sound quality.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 30, 2011 11:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I agree with a lot of what you just said, but please, Dick Latvala was not "clueless"! He correctly understood that 68-74 was the most important era, he understood that the big jams are where it's at, he selected a lot of very strong shows for the Dick's Picks series. A lot of the flaws weren't his fault, band members tended to veto a lot of what he wanted to do and shows being chopped up was caused by that as well as a desire to fill the CDs full and use sources without a lot of sonic problems.

When Dick started out (before getting hired), GD scholarship was really primitive compared to now, he had to listen "in the dark" without the advantage of all the resources and knowledge we have now. I agree he wasn't necessarily a very intellectual listener, and in a lot of ways he was more of an enthusiast and fan than a critic but I think that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I think we owe Dick a lot of thanks because in many ways he was way "ahead of his time" in his appreciation for the band and his belief that the vault should be heard, and his taste was definitely better for the average of the time! We know he leaked out a ton of amazing stuff because he wanted to share the joy of music.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-07-30 18:03:52

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 30, 2011 1:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I did not mean to come off as bad mouthing Dick,but as far as him understanding the music,I will stand by my clueless statement.I think it is a no brainer that the 68'-74'era is the most important,the big jams being where it's at,and the value of the recordings in the vault.I started going in 78' and realized very quickly that what I was seeing was an inferior version of what had come before,and I did not not have access to what is available now,but there was enough to make it very clear as to the truth of the matter.Now I'm not saying Dick did not have a vast knowledge concerning the bands catalog,and I'm not commenting on what was released in his name,it is more about not getting what the good music was,of course that is a completely subjective statement.I would think the foremost quality you would want in someone who is listening to your archive of recordings to suggest what should be considered for release to your listening audience,would be an expertise in what was good about your music,not a fan or enthusiast who's strengths were in other areas.Here are some excerpts from Dick's review of 1/22/78 from Deadbase.The first set ranks as one of the best ever,with each tune having something extra.Just a ridiculous statement.He goes on to say "the second set opens with Bertha-> Good Lovin' that is as exciting as I have ever heard this typical medley.It was in actuality a run of the mill Bertha,and since I don't listen to Good Lovin' I can't comment other to say I can't imagine it being all that fantastic,since after all it is Good Lovin'.He comments on Terrapin as "things get especially hot with the most potent and meaningful version of Terrapin Station ever done.I couldn't begin to find any meaning in the nonsense that are the lyrics of Terrapin Station and also I found it to be a weak version,granted I am no Terrapin scholar.I would challenge anyone to listen to the above mentioned songs and be in agreement with Mr. Latvala.I lost any respect for his opinion after reading that review.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 1:42pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

you bring up a good point jerlouvis (sp?). I also recall finding a quote from Dick praising the 1978-10-21 other one which I found to be totally lack luster. there were moments where it almost reached great intensity, but paled in comparison to other 1978 other ones. And in no way was it an other one to be remembered.

Though I must say, Cliff mentioned a Jack Straw of which he said could likely be the best ever (or something close to that) and I found it to be standard and definitely not even in the realm of best ever. Yet Cliff's opinion is held quite high by others and his knowledge of the music, at least as far as I've seen, is clearly above average; hes no dummy.

That being said, are all of us a bit clueless at times?

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Jul 30, 2011 2:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

If you know of a performance of Jack Straw with a finer extended instrumental break than 10/27/79, I'd love to hear it...

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 3:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

My all time favorite is 1987-04-06. It is more focused on rising to a climactic finish. Which I feel is the biggest part of what makes an all time version of Jack Straw.

If I understand you correctly you are referring to the shorter jam that separates verses typically starting at 1:10 into the song? If so the length from your suggested version is 23 seconds long while the one I am suggesting is the same, or 21 seconds to my count. They both contain the same amount of measures as far as I can tell. This 87 version is about 40 seconds shorter though. (79 , 6:26) and (87, 5:44)

http://www.archive.org/details/gd87-04-06.sbd-matrix.hinko.19848.sbeok.shnf

I enjoy your suggested version and its certainly above average, I just don't think its a best ever candidate.

Also I hope I haven't offended you, it was not my intention, that situation seemed like a perfect analogy.

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Jul 30, 2011 3:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

You have not offended me. We are here to discuss the music of the Grateful Dead. The fact that we all don't always agree only makes this discussion more stimulating. Like mathematics, there is always going to more for us to learn about this music, no matter how much we study.

I like the 10/27/28 performance of Jack Straw solely for the extended instrumental break starting at 3:35 (on the most recent Charlie Miller transfer) and lasting a full 2 minutes. Certainly not the tightest rendition (with some sketchy vocals and a somewhat annoying Brent keyboard tone), it is the most jammed out Jack Straw that I am familiar with...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1979-10-27.sbd.miller.98950.sbeok.flac16

I'm afraid that all the tea in China is not going to convince me that a 1987 performance can hold a candle to it, regardless of what might be a high energy level and an intense crowd reaction. This in spite of the fact that I attended that show.

There are certainly multiple criteria with which to evaluate a performance of Jack Straw. Only one of which is instrumental creativity, which I put at a premium.

If I had to choose the tightest, most aesthetically beautiful performance, with perhaps the most emotive interpretation, I dont think any rendition would trump the Jack Straw in Paris on 5/3/72. I think this will become apparent when the Europe '72 box is released in September and we can hear the song as it was played that night (without the vocal over-dubs)...

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-05-03.sbd.masse.142.sbeok.shnf

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 4:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Right on.

Its now obvious we are looking for different things. And from your perspective, it is certainly a great Jack Straw.

Though, what is it about the late 80's that you don't like? The boys were certainly on (at least during this Jstraw), and for me, thats typically all it takes.

Early Jack Straws... I like them but from what I look for in a Jack Straw, they usually don't have it, the ending jam is much shorter and rarely if ever is climatic. I will say that I enjoy the vocals much more. They certainly possess a unique emotion that is never seen again after the hiatus. My favorite pre-hiatus version is from DP 31. I will take a listen or three to your 72 suggestion.

Thanks for the well thought out reply

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 30, 2011 2:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I hear what you're saying wisconsindead,and I understand we all might have a pet version,and we all can flat out be wrong on ocassion,I wasn't calling him out on one for instance,just pointing out multiple questionable statements in one short review.In his show notes,interviews and various articles, I read over the years,I found his opinions on what was good to be very suspect. As for Mr. Lemieux he just seems to be a company guy and in what little I know of him I have never heard him state a single interesting fact about the bands music,other than spewing some crap about how great the new 89' video release is or how it's valid to release some of the later era crap because the band was in a resurgence.Blair Jackson is a good writer,but is an ,everything is great fan as far his musical assessments.You need to go no farther than his recent review of the Road Trips release,carrying on about how great the Lost Sailor-> Saint was and how the rest of the show was this and that,I can't put stock in someone's viewpoint if I don't respect their knowledge,not necessarily agree with them,but at least see some integrity in their outlook.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 3:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I feel ya jerlouvis.

I guess what I think they need is a Road Trip Series dedicated to 68-70. and then maybe one for fall 72 hehe (i'm bias!)

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 30, 2011 6:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I'm not saying they should only release early era stuff,but at least be honest about whatever it is you are releasing.The folks who enjoy the entire span of the bands career deserve some consideration.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 31, 2011 1:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I agree that Latvala was ahead of the curve in many ways -but he was often a more enthusiastic than critical listener - he did have a strange fondness for '78 shows. And even when he was critical, I also find many of his show opinions pretty strange. That goes with the territory, though.
At least he was opinionated. It's also my impression that the folks since then in charge of releasing & writing up the music are, by an inevitable process of selection, in the "it's all good" camp, & rarely seem to dislike anything....it's a bit sad to see relatively average later shows marketed with the same hype as the really great stuff. Not a big issue, though. The late-era fans need a few crumbs thrown their way! :)

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Jul 31, 2011 11:50pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I will never for the life of me understand his aversion to 8/27/72. One reason I can't respect him fully.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 31, 2011 3:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

My guess is that Latvala had a fondness for 78 shows because he went to a lot of shows in 1978. At the end of his review of 10/21/78 in my Deadbase 8 he says, "I spent the next hour running around Winterland, feeling I had just witnessed the greatest show ever done." I would guess that 78 was an important year for his experience of the band, and as a result that year's sound and style got imprinted on his tastes. Even though I think Dick did a pretty good job on selecting his releases, I'm not a 78 fan myself, it's actually close to the bottom in my taste.

I've seen many complaints about over-praise for later era shows in the release liner notes etc, but I have to say I think it is completely absurd to expect a corporate entity trying to sell a product to offer an unbiased artistic appraisal of what they are selling. I know you and the others who make those statements aren't actually naive about this, but it still seems akin to expecting that "gourmet restaurant quality" on the packaging for a frozen pizza can be taken literally!

More than that, I'm also pretty extreme on the continuum of how good I think the Grateful Dead were, in absolute terms in comparison to other rock bands. I have no hesitation in saying that even if everything the band ever recorded vanished apart from ten random shows from 1983, the Grateful Dead would still be the best live rock band in history, easily. The fact that any random show from 1972 is better than the best show from 1983 doesn't change the fact that in comparison to other rock music, the Grateful Dead were on an entirely different musical plane for their entire career.

The Grateful Dead were climbing musical mountains for their entire career, in comparison to the small hills that are where most popular music lives. To resort to my conventional classical analogies - The GD at their best were on the level of Beethoven and Bach, in their weaker years it was more like Tchaikovsky or Vivaldi, but there is still a big gap in quality between Tchaikovsky and the vastly more limited artistic range of popular music.

I'm not sure I've ever really clearly articulated my perspective about these things in a way that is comprehensible. It's hard to do so in a way that doesn't sound like I'm trying to tear down the artistic value of music which I love. A four minute verse-chorus song can be a completely perfect work of art, but Mozart's Don Giovanni is on a higher artistic plane. That isn't a criticism of the simple song, because it has a different artistic context and goal.

At some point I'm going to try to write a really in-depth essay about musical style and the 30 year history of the GD, because I think the way we usually frame things (68-74 Golden Age vs. the weaker post-hiatus years) actually encapsulates a lot of different aesthetic dichotomies. I completely agree those years are of higher quality, but I have come to realize my reasons for preferring them are different than those expressed by many.

I think many listeners prefer that era because the quality of the rock & roll elements in the band is at its height - during those years, the GD can go toe-to-toe with other "classic rock" in terms of a tight, energetic sound. I think for many, if the "rock elements" in the music aren't present, it sounds bad to them. I think these listeners appreciate other elements in the music also, but if the rock foundation isn't solid, the whole thing collapses, from their perspective. As a result, the fact that the GD sound and feel became increasingly divorced from traditional rock and roll makes the band sound "worse and worse" as the years progressed.

I hear the superiority of the 68-74 era as inherent in the interplay of the instruments and the groupmind, and this element also became weaker in the music subsequently, but I believe it declined less than the "classic rock feel" declined. There is also the purely compositional aspect, and I think the compositional peak of the band was later than the performance peak. "Blues for Allah" and "Terrapin Station" have what I think of as the best composed music the band ever created, so a lot of the best-written songs aren't even performed during the band's best years! In fact, there is a legitimate tension between composition and improvisation, and one of the ironies of the band's career is that they never quite seemed to realize that.

Well, this got a lot longer than I expected, but let me bring it around to the conclusion - the comments on the later-era releases are only overly positive when viewed in relation to the band's other releases. There is nothing wrong with labeling a random 82 or 88 show release as a "spectacular performance" within the grand scheme of music on the planet Earth, it IS a spectacular performance of spectacular music.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 31, 2011 10:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Latvala did go to a bunch of shows in 1978 - he also said that 12/31/78 was the greatest night ever - but the strange thing is, the time he went to the most Dead shows was 1966-68, when he attended regularly. So you'd think 1978 would not seem like such a pinnacle in comparison! Latvala lived in the moment, though.

I wasn't really lamenting blurbs or liner note comments for later shows, which are not a big deal - really just saying that it's natural that writers who work for the Dead would, by the nature of things, not be very critical of many shows. In that sense, Latvala was more of an anomaly.
I also agree he made a lot of good Picks, and if weren't for having to be "representative" or pick just the highest-quality shows, he'd certainly have an even higher success rate, though within a narrower year range.

Anyway, you're often saying that someday you'll write a long post on X, Y, or Z topics.... Someday I'll hold you to account and list out all the things you said you'd write about!

I'm not sure about your theory, though, so will have to await further explication. It was my impression that later shows (such as, say, 4/6/82 or 4/1/88) had MORE "classic rock" elements than shows in the mid-'70s, aside from the drums>space segements or a few jam tunes.
In those terms, I think there's actually a big division within the "Golden Age"...68-71 has a lot of that rock sound you mention, but the 72-74 band is much calmer & mellower, with more of a "country-rock" vibe (and mostly lacking both Pigpen & Mickey), which is one reason I suspect that phase is the most popular.
'77 seems to me to be the year when the Dead consciously returned to more of a tighter rock format, a process that escalated considerably in '78, and was aided by the addition of Brent (a classic-rock guy to his core). And I think tonally, the instrument sound becomes much more "rock-ish" in the '80s, to generalize.
But by '79 there's also a creeping-in of more "weird" elements like drums>space, and often more out-there jams, along with the big song suites that had been there all along. So these elements kind of awkwardly coexist in Dead shows - by the '90s, we have these very elaborate non-rock musical statements that you're into, side-by-side with any number of cheesy standard-rock tunes - like that 3/30/90 space>Miracle you posted about. I'm not sure if the Dead actually favored one side or the other, but embraced both, just as country & psychedelia had been bedpartners in '69-70.

So, while I do think there are a number of tonal & stylistic things that make the later years less appealing for many, I'm not sure it's related to any decline in the "classic-rock" feel. (The hard-rock sound of '68 is, on the wider scale, not even one of the most popular Dead years!) You may be thinking of elements in the music I'm overlooking, like sheer "tightness" or "good singing voices" or whatnot - but it's worth remembering that, for all the diehards like me on this forum, there are many more 1990 fans out there who have no problem with the band's sound that year, and theories must account for them, too!

Anyway, the debate continues!....

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 31, 2011 4:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Lots of good points. This thread has fallen off the "front page" so I won't go into detail, but I will clarify one thing. I wasn't meaning to say the GD stopped trying to play rock and roll, but rather that they become much less successful at doing so in a way that is satisfying to listeners. You mention "I need a miracle" which is a good example, because that song usually sounds more like a parody of rock than anything else to me. Maybe Weir thought he was singing in a high-energy rock and roll fashion, but I don't think he was in any danger of being mistaken for Robert Plant, he usually sounds completely absurd.

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Poster: vapors Date: Jul 31, 2011 8:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

In reference to something LiA wrote elsewhere, I think it is rather sad that anyone casually perusing the internet in search of refreshing and vital GD discussion who happens upon here at one point in time – and that being a point when all is seemingly consumed by superfluous drivel – would be turned away and potentially miss the ‘front page news.’

But you guys, archived here, (and in the midst of the fray) you are forever leading the troops home, never flinching from your prescribed duty; to illuminate the overwhelming Grateness.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jul 31, 2011 9:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I hadn't even seen that this thread continued. Interesting discussion while the tornado was raging. I'm sure a lot of the points will come up later, too ... along with the tornado (sigh) ... but this environment is certainly more pleasant.

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

We're finally not in Kansas anymore AR, thanks to you guys for this excellent and intelligent discussion. THIS is what we all come here for, not the nonsense that's been going on lately!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 31, 2011 9:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Driven off the front page by the latest social craze! Aack!

I'll just briefly note that many listeners (though not many on this forum) actually favor the later GD years over the "Golden Age," feeling that the earlier Dead (before '72 or '73 or '77 or Brent) just sounds too raw & undeveloped. And I feel that the blatant "rockisms" the Dead sometimes indulged in '80s/90s shows also have their fans....I don't know about Miracle, but certainly something like Deal with its big-rock-guitar-solo generates a lot of enthusiasm.

So take care not to fling lances at "straw men" in your argument - GD music always divides opinions, from whatever year!
Personally I feel that the Dead were NEVER very good at "rock" - though they certainly shuffled, and they definitely excelled at making people dance, the straight rock vocabulary was not their strong suit. As you say, they worked on more subtle levels (the many Chuck Berry covers aside)....

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 1, 2011 4:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Also accurate observations - I think I tend to weight what I regard as "expert opinion" much more heavily than the general opinion. I also believe there has been a substantial shift over time in preferences. There was a time when 5/8/77 was the conventional wisdom for best show ever, and May 77 was regarded as the peak. Some people still make that claim, but in general the opinion of the late 70s has become a lot more critical and earlier years have risen tremendously in esteem.

I think the "test of time" has shown that the sound of the late 60s and early 70s - and this applies to more music than just the GD, more or less the whole field of popular music - has aged a lot better than the sounds of the late 70s and 80s. People now recognize that the sound of tube amps, analog tape mixing, often created a warmth and richness that was lost in the trend toward higher fidelity sound and the dawn of the digital era.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-01 11:16:00

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Makes you wonder where the critical consensus will be in 20 years....insofar as there's ever a "consensus" on the Dead.
Maybe new trends will arise that'll change the way people hear these things...

Anything sounds better than the '80s. That was easily the worst period for mainstream rock music....just ghastly!

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Poster: rastamon Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

from late 70's disco to the 80's HairBands...(tho i did like Come sail away) The GD had the best live music for that decade

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

Of course, the late 60s/early 70s was also the High Rennaisance. Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael all happening at the same time. (Did I just name the ninja turtles?) Sometimes the stars just align artistically.

I doubt many folks listen to late 70s/80s music now for much more than nostalgia value. (Heck, it was hard enough at the time!) But it seems as if there have always been teens rediscovering the greats of the 60s, and while I'm sure percentages are declining, still, kids listening in part to the same music as their parents?!? That's actually pretty amazing. And it seems to be still happening. That era has legs. It's holding up like Miles Davis or, as you like to say, classical music.

I do think technical obsessions are sometimes the "wave of the times" and capture the consciousness and fascination of creative artists in ways that don't always hold up later. Maybe that's part of why 80s music ages worse than late 60s music. It's most definitely happening in movies now with CGI; Avatar won't age terribly well IMO.

Btw, for what it's worth, I agree with LiA that 80s-era GD sounds more rock-n-roll to my ears. Certainly that's true with what they were writing; Alabama Getaway vs Mississippi Half Step? I think that orientation is even reflected in their choice of covers -- rock classics rather than country or folk. Not the only reason for it, but still, that's what they chose with the mindset they had at the time.

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-08-01 13:27:41

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

I can tell I did a poor job trying to talk about classic rock vs. later day GD! One aspect of that is that I regard country rock, folk rock, etc, as a sub-genre of the "classic rock" sound. This is purely semantic - I can certainly tell that Jimi Hendrix and Crosby Stills and Nash have very different styles, but I would still put them in the "classic rock" category which includes most of the famous names from 65-75.

I think both you and LIA think of "classic rock" as labeling mostly the heavier guitar, more blues oriented sound - maybe that usage is more standard than my own tendency to use labels rather loosely.

More crucially, though, I wasn't trying to say that the later GD stopped trying to be a rock band - just that they became much worse at delivering the rock sound in a satisfying way, but other aspects of their musicality didn't fall off as much. It's obviously not black-and-white, and perhaps the vocabulary isn't precise enough to let me communicate the aspects of the band's sound I have playing in my mind's ear.

In later era GD, the way the guitar tones sit on top of the "steam powered clockwork" rhythm section makes everything sound much more internally divergent than the unified and solid sound of classic rock of all genres. It's true this kind of contrapuntal texture also exists in the Wall of Sound era especially in jams, but Billy K's fluidity and flow in his solo years does a lot to synthesize the sound into perceptual unity.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 12:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: long-term listening strategies

It is remarkable how the '60s holds up....there was a dividing line in the '50s when "youth music" took over and made everything earlier sound "old" (though there was a little stutter until '63/64 when the real popular renaissance started). For kids today to listen to '60s bands would be like the early Dead listening to Bing Crosby & Paul Whiteman! (Or actually, even older Edison recordings & vaudeville-era bands; but the analogy breaks down because there were barely "popular" recordings 50 years before the '60s.)
Granted, I think rap & hip-hop is much more "in" these days, but classic rock holds its own.... We haven't yet reached another of those dividing lines.

One thing I noticed about the early Dead was how, in their covers, they completely ignored the mainstream music of the '40s-50s, instead taking all their cues from the 'underground' black blues/R&B tradition, and from ancient & half-forgotten jugband & "folk" records. Just part of the process by which early rock bands wiped out the "pop" music of their parents!

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 29, 2011 9:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

Almost every 72 Playin is great, and I don't have a lot of detailed comparative notes. LIA has already posted my my personal favorite 72 Playin, which is 11/15/72.

10/18/72 is definitely up there, for the setlist/structure if nothing else! Pretty much all of the fall Playins are amazing, so the DP choices from September are definitely great versions. 11/18 is probably the "most intense" Playin of all time, but it is maybe a bit TOO extreme - I think I saw someone speculate that Phil was actually angry onstage and expressing it in the music, which kind of sounds right to me.

It's hard for me to make much comparative rating of 72 Playins, both because they are consistently excellent, and because the musical approach to the improvisation was usually fairly similar - you hear a lot of the same Jerry riffs and intervals, and Phil rhythms, in every version.

Some Playins that are very interesting and important are the earliest "breakthrough" versions we have recorded, which are from the Academy of Music run in March. Here is the first "big jam" Playin, and it is pretty wonderful despite how early it was in the evolution.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-03-21.sbd.miller.92395.sbeok.flac16

Every show of this run is interesting, and I think they were really "getting off" from the new, jammed out version of Playin, because it seems to get more intense and exploratory at every show. A lot of the sources available are pretty mediocre audience recordings though, but the final night of the run is Dick's Picks 30, and the jam here is quite a bit more extended and powerful than the version at the start of the run. There is an aud, but it isn't really of "enjoyable listening" quality.

Since the famous Veneta Playin was already mentioned, I'll offer a link to a less famous show just a few days before that also has a great Playin, 8/24/72:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd72-08-24.sbd.miller.18093.sbeok.shnf

As much as I love Playin in 72, I prefer the more open-ended versions from 73 and 74, even though they don't have as much of the pure, focused intensity.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jul 30, 2011 10:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

thanks bkidwell

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Poster: mush72 Date: Jul 29, 2011 5:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: bkidwell, Playin...

11/18/72 - Hofheintz Pavilion

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-11-18.sbd-set2.lai.9182.shnf

This is a pretty wild one. First time I heard it, I was working and listening through headphones. About 2/3 of the way through, I had to walk away...it just got way weird. Definitely worth a listen.

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